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The DIY artists - Peckham collective LuckyPDF

diy peckhamLuckyPDF are four Peckham-based 25-year-olds who are as much curators or TV producers as they are artists. They set up live events, commission performance and video artists, and put the lot together in a format like a surreal TV programme, complete with presenters, graphic interludes and VT packages. Crucially, these events are also disseminated online via their own website and the creative video sharing network Vimeo, and are loudly trumpeted on Twitter and Facebook.


LuckyPDF have quickly gained a growing audience at the edgier extremes of the London art world, and they are lynchpins of the Peckham art scene, which is fast becoming a rival to the East End. But this week they are gaining a whole new level of attention as they unveil one of the most anticipated commissions for this year's Frieze art fair.

Their studio is in a vast industrial building recently bought by SPACE, the company set up by Bridget Riley and others in 1968 to help impoverished young artists find studios. They are here on a short residency while they prepare for Frieze, and as I enter the studio just a few days before the project begins, I find a hive of activity.

Part production suite, part sculpture workshop, it houses two different stage sets being constructed by two artist friends - one with a fallen Corinthian column and pedestal, and a fireplace adorned with the five Olympic rings; the other a spare, modernist-looking construction in wood and glass.

At the centre of the room is a big table with computers and sundry audio visual equipment, around which the four members sit. In the corner of the studio is a sofa with a duvet, reflecting the long nights the group have been keeping in recent weeks.

LuckyPDF - a name intended to evoke a start-up internet café - was founded by John Hill and Ollie Hogan in 2008. The first show they put on, in a Peckham community centre, featured James Early, a mutual friend. Early and Yuri Pattison were brought in as permanent members of the group last year, when LuckyPDF were given a residency at trendy Peckham space Auto Italia. Unlike many groups, they didn't meet at art school - Hogan was at Wimbledon, Hill at Camberwell, Early at Chelsea, and Pattison at Goldsmiths - but via shared interests in new artistic media.

The series of events they created for Auto Italia is the blueprint for the Frieze project, a cross between a Dadaist revue and a TV magazine programme, which seems both completely of the moment and faintly nostalgic.

"One of the reasons we chose this format is that it allows so many different things to be done at once," says Hill, "and yet you have a format that people are familiar with, that can draw everything together. So the idea with the idents, and even the presenters, is that it follows the conventions of magazine television, but these are just used as spaces in which people can make things."

How do they define themselves in comparison with other artists? Early says traditional definitions of the artist and curator are "outmoded", as curators play an increasingly creative role.

"There is a paradigm shift in what an artist is," he says, "which starts with the empowerment of the curator, and then that blurring of those roles in the art world."

This idea of breaking down boundaries, messing around with traditional art-world relationships, is one of LuckyPDF's key ideas. "Artists don't have the kind of control that they normally have over a project, and equally, curators and institutions don't necessarily have the same amount of control with us," explains Hill. Sarah McCrory, curator of Frieze Projects, has been "very trusting" of their plans for the fair, he adds.

They are leading to some memorable moments in the four shows which take place at 4pm on each afternoon of the fair, starting today, in a bespoke studio in the Frieze tent.

They include a first for Frieze - wrestling. "Paul Simon Richards [a London-based artist] is bringing Tiny Iron and the Rage with him for a showdown," Early says. "It's pretty scary and is going to be pretty alarming for anybody who's got a gallery at the fair: Tiny Iron weighs about 200lb and him moving about anywhere within the vicinity of millions of pounds worth of art is a pretty daunting prospect for us to manage."

Another performance is a reconstruction of a 1971 ESP experiment conducted by psychedelic rockers The Grateful Dead, where they asked the audience to telepathically project an image of birds to "receivers" in five different locations. The Frieze version will feature Bo Ningen, a Japanese "avant-noise" band in the group's role, and Frieze visitors will "send" the image to Californian artist Petra Cortright, who will "receive" and draw the picture that she sees in Photoshop. "It didn't work in the Seventies, but it should work now," Pattison says, with a wry smile.

Among the presenters is Hennessy Youngman, a hilarious hybrid of hip hop star and art critic, and Jeremy Bailey, a parody of a cyber-nerd new- media artist. "Both are performance artists, but they are both YouTube characters," says Hill, "and they both have an interest in the relationship between a single performer and a mass audience."

Many Frieze Projects commissions have a whiff of subversion about them, openly questioning the uneasy relationship between commerce and art that art fairs flaunt. But LuckyPDF are steering clear of this approach. "You should concentrate on doing what you want to do, rather than trying to critique the fair, and changing your practice to critique it," says Pattison.

So what is their ultimate ambition? "Directing a Kanye West music video," Hogan says. Indeed, McCrory has attempted to contact West about a collaboration on several occasions. Alas, it hasn't yet happened, but it is illustrative of LuckyPDF's buckling of art world norms. Their entrepreneurial spirit, and that of the whole Peckham scene - setting up galleries in disused spaces, for instance, raising funds to support their art through hosting warehouse parties - recalls that of Damien Hirst and the YBAs, but they feel quite different. Their work doesn't cost much at the moment and they fund themselves from part-time jobs (in music and advertising video production, and at a gallery).

Their sights for now are set on making themselves known through new media - they're not waiting to be discovered by Nicholas Serota or Charles Saatchi. "We're the new generation, there is a whole new audience, and we are not interested in pandering to a generation that is not going to be here in 20 years time," Early says. "It is irrelevant to us."